Law amendments to boost Indigenous prosperity: Rabuka

August 29, 2023 12:41 pm

The government has embarked on a legal overhaul aimed at enhancing the economic participation and earnings of the indigenous iTaukei community.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, while speaking on Radio Fiji One’s “Na Noda Paraiminisita” program, stressed this move.

He says the government is taking proactive steps to evaluate and strengthen existing legislation, ensuring that the interests and economic aspirations of the iTaukei people are effectively represented.

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Rabuka has emphasized that the amendments come as part of a broader effort to dismantle colonial-era regulations and pave the way for locally crafted laws that better reflect the nation’s sovereign status.

“This will continue, and so this means that a lot of work will need to be done by lawmakers and so we will also be getting feedbacks from village, district and province meetings and challengers, and changes that need to be made will be noted and taken into account by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs.”

Rabuka states that under the revised framework, indigenous land management practices are being revisited with a focus on augmenting their contribution to the nation’s GDP.

The PM highlights that Bill Number 17, which previously governed land laws pertaining to indigenous territories, has been repealed, signaling a shift towards greater empowerment and economic progress for these communities.

“We have reverted back to the old way in which land belonging to indigenous people are managed and this not the end of it. We will keep on working on evaluating and strengthening the existing laws in order to assist us to participate more economically.”

Rabuka says through extensive consultations involving village, district, and provincial meetings, the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is soliciting feedback to shape the legislative changes ahead.

Among the key issues addressed are customary fishing rights and qoliqoli ownership.

The government’s revision seeks a more balanced approach, calling for compensation and alternative fishing sites for customary owners affected by restricted access.

Rabuka says the goal is to ensure equitable planning while safeguarding livelihoods and safety.